burton art gallery and museum
gallery highlights




Kingsley Road, Bideford, Devon EX39 2QQ

Telephone: 01237 471455
Email: info@theburton.org

Admission is Free
Open Daily 10am - 4pm
Sundays 11am - 4pm

John Butler

Image: Solitary Drinker - £380

John Butler began woodcarving in a very roundabout way. His father had been a woodcarver before World War II and he used to play with his large collection of woodcarving tools that he stored in the shed. There were examples of his father’s work around the house that he considered to be extremely skilful and worthy, but rather old-fashioned.

After an enjoyable art school education John worked at first as a stage designer and then on such animated films as ‘Roobarb and Custard’ and ‘Watership Down’. It was at this time that John’s father became very ill and he took it upon himself to absorb as much of his woodcarving skills as he could. After he died John continued to carve, almost as a memorial to him.

John felt that his early carvings were reasonable but much in his father’s shadow. It was only when he started to draw on his own experiences as a stage designer and cartoonist that his woodcarvings began to come to life.

John’s woodcarvings are usually based on observations of his fellow human beings. When he started carving 25 years ago, his work tended to be based on visual jokes, whereas now they are based on observation. The small town in which John lives is full of characters that he can transform into woodcarvings. The combination of observations and gentle humour is something that almost everyone can identify with showing why John’s work is so popular.

John carves in seasoned lime wood, which is a traditional carvers wood and these days his carvings average height is about 40cms or 16 inches.

John’s carvings have warmth, energy and humour and have proved remarkably popular. They feature in the collections of Billy Connolly, Michael Fish, Gemma Jones and in many other private and public collections.

lottery funded